A Kitchen Failure?

This pandemic forced me- like a lot of people- back into the kitchen with all the wonderful homemade meals I remember from childhood and the challenge of making new things with ingredients on hand.

For some this might have produced an almost impossible challenge but as a child who used a step-stool to reach the stove top so he could ‘cook’- being in the kitchen has always been enjoyable.

I’ve realized those who don’t cook usually fall into two categories. People who don’t like to cook or those who don’t because of the possibility of failure, either due to lack of time or knowledge.

I say to anyone who wants to cook to embrace the aspect of failure. There are so many recipes and so many stories of home cooks who failed at a dish or recipe only to discover the failure was something they liked much more than the goal.

I love this quote from Napoleon, “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

A personal example of mine is the Hawaiian Grindz cookie listed on our menu. If you haven’t tried one of our Grindz then you’re missing out on one of our most popular cookie. The best part of this cookie being so popular is that it wouldn’t even exist if not for a colossal failure shortly before we went public with Mad Doh.

We all know homemade recipes can be slightly different from one day to the next, so my biggest goal before going public was to make sure I had a consistent and solid recipe for each cookie- simple enough... in theory.

It was a batch of my chocolate chip cookies, the Jack Chipper. I had made these cookies thousands of times and knew the recipe by heart. When I took a bite out of one of the cookies recently made I spit it out almost instantly. That was NOT my chocolate chip cookie. That was NOT what it was supposed to taste like. What happened??

I ran through the ingredients in my head quickly. I had done everything I always do. Everything had made the list. It looked the same, cooked the same, had the same texture, the same feel- yet it was NOT my cookie. I went back and inspected the actual ingredients, looking at each container and each item, it was then that I noticed what had happened.

In my haste at the grocery store I had purchased unrefined oil as opposed to refined oil. That was the ONLY difference. It had a completely different taste. So I did a little research. As I read my mind started to fill with all the ideas of how I could use this mistaken ingredient instead of just tossing it out.

I thought, “It doesn’t taste bad, it just isn’t MY Chocolate Chip cookie. What flavor does it give me? Maybe coconut could go good with that flavor? What about something nutty? Almonds go good with coconut- so does chocolate- but maybe not as much chocolate as my chocolate chip? This oil is different... I need something to add more texture... what could add more texture but go well with coconut, almond, and chocolate? What about banana? Banana adds a wonderful thick texture to bread and cakes. I can’t have it too moist...” I just kept going and going.

Before long the Hawaiian Grindz were born. In fact, everyone who tried them liked them so much I decided to go public with Mad Doh with the Grindz as one of my original menu items.

What had turned out as a baking failure became a baking success. I’m reminded of it (finding it a little funny) each time I’m buying supplies and pick up unrefined oil for this one particular cookie. Having made this successful ‘mistake’ has caused me to take a lot more chances with new recipes. After all, you never know what new ‘Grindz’ cookies are waiting to be discovered!

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